The coronavirus pandemic has created a shortage of UK farm labourers, many of whom are responsible for picking and packing fruit and vegetables. As a result, farmers are calling for the British public to help fill some 90,000 farm roles in the coming weeks. If supermarket shelves in the UK are to stay well stocked, then it’s vital that these roles get filled.
In response to the staff shortage, three leading ethical providers of labour in the UK – Concordia, HOPS and Fruitful – have come together to launch the Feed the Nation Campaign, which aims to fill as many roles as possible.
Anyone working in a farm role will be listed as a key worker, and be free to travel to and from work, without restrictions. Concordia and HOPS have both confirmed that their farms – many of which are fields – are following the correct procedures and safe working conditions during the coronavirus outbreak.
What sort of roles are available?
The majority of roles involve harvesting and packaging fruit and vegetables. There are also roles available for people with extra skills, including tractor drivers and those able to operate heavy machinery. Roles harvesting crops could last anywhere between six weeks and six months starting from early May onwards.
If you’re wondering whether there could be any work available near you, then British Summer Fruits – the industry body representing 95% of all British grown berries – has put together a helpful map, showing the location of berry farms around the UK, and the jobs on offer.
What is the work like?
Before applying to work on a farm, it’s important to be aware that the work is tough. You should be prepared for early starts, long hours and to work in all sorts of weathers. It’s also very physically demanding; you’ll be on your feet all day and there’s plenty of bending, stretching and lifting involved. However, farm work is also a great opportunity to get outdoors, get some fresh air and keep the nation fed – which comes with a great sense of reward.
Find out first-hand what it’s like to work on a Concordia farm:
How will I get paid?
All workers will at least receive national minimum wage, and some farms will pay National Living Wage or more, depending on which role you do on the farm or how much fruit and veg you harvest. You will also receive housing during your placement if you need it – although you do not have to take this offer up.
Will I receive training?
All roles offered by Concordia, HOPS and Fruitful will come with up to three weeks of paid training, to help you boost your earnings as much as possible.
How do I apply?
You can apply for farm roles through the Concordia, HOPS and Fruitful Alliance’s Ethical Labour portal. Here, you will be asked to enter a few basic details into a form. Once you’ve done this, you will receive a link to Alliance’s online video interview platform. Don’t panic if you’ve never done anything like this before, because you’ll be talked through the steps.
If your video interview is successful, you will be matched up to a UK farm based on your skills and preferences. At this stage, you’ll receive information about the farm you’ve been matched with, and will be able to accept or decline the offer via email.